Gunpowder commonly known as black powder is made of sulfur, saltpeter and charcoal. The earliest records mention the record of gunpowder in 142 A. D. Though tried, tested and perfected over the time it is believed to have been invented by Chinese around 11th and 12th century. The strength of gunpowder used earlier was not that catastrophic as it is today, it was because of the amount of the saltpeter which was 50% earlier and now is 75%. The Chinese first used the explosive in the fireworks, then in the wars and then the combination was used in primitive rockets. The Chinese tried to keep the gunpowder a secret to themselves but during the war of Song Dynasty the explosive was made known to Islamic and Roman rulers. And this is how it finally spread to the world.
Historians believe that Mongols who conquered both India and China were the ones who brought the recipe of gunpowder to India in the 12th century. Soon the knowledge of gunpowder reached Europe through the silk route and was first used by them in 1346 in the Battle of Crecy.
Both the Chinese and the European inventors invented the cannon which used gunpowder to shoot heavy iron balls in the 13th century.
The gunpowder works with the touch of fire and was used in cannons and guns but it could not make blasts for which the world waited for 500 years till the invention of nitroglycerine.